Towards a Dynamic Understanding of Cadherin-Based Mechanobiology.
Cadherin-based cell-cell adhesions are a primary determinant of tissue structure. For several decades, it had been thought that the primary function of these ubiquitous structures was to resist external mechanical loads. Here we review recent evidence that cadherins also couple together the force-generating actomyosin cytoskeletons of neighbouring cells, serve as potent regulators of the actomyosin cytoskeleton, and activate diverse signalling pathways in response to applied load. In considering the force sensitivity of the molecular-scale processes that mediate these events, we propose a dynamic picture of the force-sensitive processes in cell-cell contacts. This quantitative and physical understanding of the mechanobiology of cadherin cell-cell junctions will aid endeavours to study the fundamental processes mediating the development and maintenance of tissue structure.
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